Walking briskly along the path which encircles this park, I glance at the white-haired woman sitting on the bench.
Sitting slightly stooped over with age, she raises her face to watch me pass, her warm eyes twinkling in soft reflection, a radiant smile playing on her lips.
I maintain my pace, hesitating briefly to return her smile.
Her eyes reflect a look I immediately recognize.
It is the look I bestow on women younger than myself.
It is the look of fond remembrance.
She is remembering when she once briskly walked passed an old woman.
And now that old woman is she.
I look that same way at a woman with young children, holding with one hand a wandering toddler and with the other, pushing a stroller.
I too once held small hands in mine.
I look that same way at a teenaged girl, prancing in her sleek sparkling dress.
I too once pranced on the edge of womanhood.
I look that same way at the gap- toothed biking six year old with legs a tad too short, wishing they’d grow.
I too once wished my teeth would grow, along with my legs.
At what point does one stop looking to those older with yearning, and begin looking to those younger with remembering?
Remembering, as a little girl, with much of life yet ahead of me, I’d gaze at the teen girl in pretty long dresses and wonder if I’ve ever be so pretty.
Remembering, as a teen girl, with life’s uncertain choices ahead of me, I’d gaze at the young mother and wonder if I’d ever have a family.
Remembering, as a young mother,with little free time ahead of me, I’d gaze at the older woman with much free time, and wonder when I’d have days of leisure.
Looking back with regret breeds disappointment and discontent.
Looking back with fondness fosters satisfaction and gratitude.
Looking forward, I mindfully preserve new memories, adding to those already gathered in each phase of life.
For some day, I yearn to be an old woman on the bench.